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"Husbands, Love Your Wives..." - One Application of Ephesians 5:25

After graduating college, a different friend seemed to get married every weekend. One of my favorite parts of this season was a tradition that developed among my friends. During the bachelor’s party, we had a “serious time.” We typically sat in a circle and gave encouragements, shared marriage advice, and thanked the groom for his friendship. We always prayed for God’s blessing on the marriage.
  I heard much advice while in these circles, and a few nuggets of wisdom have stuck with me and affected my day-to-day life as a husband. I do not remember who was getting married when someone explained at least one thing that Ephesians 5:25 means, but I have not forgotten the powerful message. I have also proposed the same challenge to many soon to be husbands.
I probably will not have the privilege to sit in your bachelor’s weekend circle, so I want to share at least one implication of Ephesians 5:25 with you now. This verse teaches husbands to “love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
Husbands, take responsibility for the unity and togetherness of your marriage. When you sense distance or conflict separating you and your wife, take responsibility. IT MAY OR MAY NOT BE YOUR FAULT, but make it your responsibility. Jesus did not give his life for the church on Calvary’s cross because the separation between God and people was Jesus’ fault. In fact, it was not his fault at all. Though He had no fault in the situation, He took responsibility to bring unity and togetherness to the relationship.
When my wife and I are at odds, I tend to want to decide who is at fault. I reason, "If it is my fault, I will do something about it." However, when I feel that my wife is at fault, I sometimes want to sit back and wait. I may let bitterness grow while I wait to see if she is going to try to make things right. I could reason, “It's not my fault. She is the one dropping the ball.” However, sooner or later Ephesians 5:25 pops into my mind, and I realize it is not primarily about fault. If I am going to love my wife as Christ does the church, I will take responsibility for our togetherness and intimacy. I will engage my wife in discussion instead of engaging in a silent or bitter standoff until a guilty party is named.
Let me be clear. I am not saying wives ought not apologize and seek reconciliation when they sin against or hurt their husbands. I am not saying wives should not lovingly go to their husbands when their husband has hurt or offended them.  What I am saying is that husbands who desire to love their wives as Christ loved the church will see themselves as primarily responsible for ensuring the unity of the marriage whether or not any disunity is their fault. Responsibility and fault are not the same thing.
Husbands, “love your wives as Christ loved the church.” Distance and conflict provide opportunities for us to represent Christ to our wives, the watching world, and ourselves as we take responsibility for intimacy with our wives. This is sometimes gut-wrenchingly hard, so let us return often to Ephesians 5 and pray to God with desperation that He will give us the strength, courage, and humility to live this out. And then, let us love our wives after the example of how our Savior loved us. He took responsibility even when it was not His fault. The sinless Savior was beaten, mocked, crucified, and suffered the wrath of a Holy God, because He took responsibility even when it was not His fault.
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